Brand Marketing or Direct Marketing-What Do You Choose?

Do you know what the difference of brand marketing and direct marketing? In this article, I’ll compare brand marketing to direct marketing and them I’m going to give you example of each and how you can incorporate both types of marketing into your business.

Brand Marketing

First let’s look at the definition of brand marketing. The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. The legal term for brand is trademark. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller. If used for the firm as a whole, the preferred term is trade name.”

The easiest way to describe brand marketing, is that your promoting your brand in hopes that people will remember you, when the times comes for them to make a purchase. Results of each individual marketing medium are not really tracked. The company just looks at the overall sales and compares those to the overall marketing expenses to see if the campaign was profitable.

One of the easiest examples that I can give of brand marketing is to think of the way athletic shoes are marketed. Normally, the shoe company will use a sports celebrity in the advertisement.

  1. You may see the player wearing the shoes while playing their sport.
  2. You may see TV commercials with the player and the shoes.
  3. You may see a banner ad online on a sports website
  4. And then you will see a large poster of the player in the front window of the shoe store you are about to enter.

All of this advertising is to get you to remember that particular shoe or celebrity, when you walk into the shoe store to buy your shoes.

There are two main problems for trying to use brand advertising.

  1. It is very expensive. You are trying to implant your image into the mind of your customer, so they remember you. This can cost a whole lot of money to do this.
  2. There is no means of measuring which advertisement is working and which one is not.

This is why I do not recommend doing a strictly branding campaign without at least some form of direct marketing component, where you can at least measure the response of the ads.

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is also known as Interactive Marketing, Direct Response Marketing and the highest level of direct marketing is known as Database Marketing.

So what exactly is direct marketing? According to Lisa Spiller’s textbook the definition of direct marketing is a database driven interactive process of directly communicating with targeted customers or prospects using any medium to obtain a measurable response or transaction via one or multiple channels.

That is a very accurate definition of direct marketing, but let me try to simplify the definition and explain it to you.

There are 3 main components to direct marketing are:

1)    It is database driven

2)    The advertising that you are doing is very targeted to your customers and prospects

3)    Each marketing medium requires some means of measuring a response.

With this type of marketing you really don’t care about branding your logo, you are more concerned with who responded, and to what offer.

Now let’s look a little more in depth at each of these components of direct marketing.

The Database.

The database can be anything that can store names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc. The more information you have about your customers the easier it is to target other prospects similar to your current customers.  Databases can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet (this is normally referred to as a customer list, instead of a database.)  But it is even better, if you have a relational database that can measure response rates from each client, while tracking what the client purchased and the date they purchased.

For instance, say you have a client that has bought 2 or 3 products from you and they are in your database. Moreover you have the wedding anniversary dates of your clients. By looking at your database, you realize in 3 weeks this client is about to have their wedding anniversary. Knowing this piece of information gives you a reason to contact the client, plus you know the client has a reason to buy and there is a concrete date in which they have to purchase. You can put together a special offer for this client, and refer them to your website to purchase or invite them to visit your business for redeem this special offer.

Now imagine you have 1200 clients in your database, and by looking at your database, you realize on any given month there is between 50 – 100 clients having an anniversary that month.  Now by contacting these clients, on the month of their anniversary, and making them a special offer, this can result in a substantial increase in monthly and yearly sales. This is done at very little expense in regards to time and money to generate these additional sales. This is the power of a database.

2.) The Advertising is Very Targeted to Your Customers and Prospects

Another difference between brand marketing and direct marketing is that direct marketing is very targeted and focused, where as brand marketing is more of a general broadcast.  To use a gun analogy, direct marketing is like using a rifle, where as brand marketing is like using a shotgun.  With direct marketing you know exactly who your customers are, because of your database. Therefore, it is easier to find more prospects similar to your current customers, because you know exactly, who your customers are.  By knowing who your customers are, it tells you, where to advertise. The more focused your advertising becomes, the higher the response rate to your advertising and the more profit you will earn. You also save money on advertising by not wasting money on ads that are not targeted to customers, similar to what’s in your database. With direct marketing, the database allows you to know who your customers are, and in turn that drives your marketing and advertising.

3.) Each marketing medium requires some means of measuring response.

A response can consist of anything from an inquiry phone call, an email, a click to a specific website, a sale of a painting, etc.  A response is normally any means, where a targeted prospect performs a specific measurable action that is requested by the company running the ad.

Why is it important to develop some way of telling which advertisement generates a response? Being able to tell, who responds to which ads, allows you to determine:

  1. Your return on investment for each ad.
  2. Which ad is profitable and which ad is not profitable.
  3. It also allows you to test competing ads against each other to see which one generates the greatest response.

To wrap this up, let us use the example of using your database to send out offers to clients with anniversaries. Upon looking at your database, you start looking at who actually purchased from the anniversary offer that you sent.  You notice that of the 50- 100 people each month that you sent an offer, you have seven or eight people that actually purchased from you each month from your anniversary offer.

Now Valentine’s Day is approaching, do you think it would be a good idea, to send the people that actually purchased from your anniversary offer a different Valentine’s Day offer than you send the rest of your customers? This gives you another reason to contact people that have purchased from you in the past and also, it gives the client another reason to purchase from you

In conclusion, brand marketing and direct marketing are completely different advertising strategies, but with the current state of the economy, many brand marketing campaigns are starting to incorporate a direct marketing component to their advertising. And direct marketing campaigns are starting to incorporate some elements of brand marketing. The point of this is you can do both with your business, but if your limited in dollars and on a small budget, you can implement a direct marketing campaign inexpensively, generate positive results, sell more of your products and services while earning additional income. Just remember it all starts with your database and list.

Customer Service- Going the Extra Mile the Chick-Fil-A Way.

Is your customer service as good as Chick-fil-A's?

Customer Service- Going the Extra Mile the Chick-Fil-A Way.

What are you doing in your business to set yourself apart from your competition?  What level of service are you providing to your current customer? Do you make sure that with each experience the customer leaves with a better view of your business than prior to their arrival?

Today acquiring new customers for many businesses can be challenging, so it is extremely important to maximize the relationships that you have with your current customers. One way to do this is to provide outstanding customer service.

Often I visit a local mall and I normally stop in and get a Philly-cheese steak and a drink at this one particular restaurant in the food court. Overtime, the owner of this restaurant has gotten to know me, because I am in the mall, so often, shopping and buying food and drinks from her.

While I am shopping in the mall, I normally get my drink refilled 2 or 3 times. The last time I visited her restaurant, she told me that she was going to start charging for each drink refill. I looked on the menu board and it said “Free Drink Refills.” I mentioned this to her and reminded her of how often I was in mall and how often I bought food and drinks from her. I told her that I bought food from her more than any other restaurant.

My efforts seemed futile trying to get her to understand what a loyal customer meant for her business. Still I tried three more attempts to reason with her and to no avail.

Finally she told me “I don’t care! I am charging you for the drinks.”

As soon as she said this to me, I knew I would probably not be buying any more Philly-cheese steaks from her anymore, especially when all of the other restaurants in the food court offer free drink refills. My immediate thought was well “If you don’t care, why should I care.” although I did not say this to her that is what I thought.

Instead, I asked her if she knew the difference between Chick-Fil-A and her restaurant.

She replied “No”

I explained it to her with three short words “Service and Sales.”

To make matters worse for this restaurant owner, I sat down in the food court to eat and quickly noticed the General Manager of Chick-Fil-A asking all of the Chick-Fil-A customers if he could get them a refill on their drink or get rid of their trash.

After I finished eating, I went over to the Chick-Fil-A GM and told him my story. He quickly realized the opportunity and refilled my cup for me, even though it was the cup of the other restaurant. Then he explained to me that a refill on a drink only costs 3 or 4 cents. Then he says to me “If you need your drink refilled while you are shopping, please just let me know.” Guess where I go to purchase my food in the mall now? The chicken tastes better than the Philly-cheese steak ever did.

About a month later, I was talking to the GM of the same Chick-fil-a and the mall management walked by us. I quickly stopped them and told them about the whole Chick-Fil-A experience that I had a month prior and what an outstanding job this GM did of fixing the situation and refilling my drink, even though it really was not his problem.

Mall management was very excited to hear about the service of the Chick-fil-a GM, but was pretty irritated about the service of their other tenant.

After the mall management left, the Chick-Fil-A GM reaches in his shirt pocket and hands me a FREE Chick-Fil-A sandwich card for sharing my experience with the mall management.

That is service and that is why Chick-Fil-A excels in sales.

The lesson to be learned from all of this is the owner of this business had a very loyal customer and because of one bad experience, and a competitor having better customer service, I will probably never buy from her again.

Loyal customers are the life blood of your art business. Whatever you have to do to take care of your customers, just do it.

Current customers are the lifeblood of your business for several reasons.

  • It takes up to 8 times more money to acquire a new customer as it does to maintain a current customer.
  • Current customers are more likely to purchase from you on a regular basis than new customers
  • Current customers are less sensitive to price than new customers.
  • Current customers have already had a positive experience with you and that is why they have returned.

Plus, now with social media and all of the review sites that are online and on mobile phones, the entire dynamics of the business to customer relationship is changing. The customers have a lot more control over who visits your business and most of it is based off of their total customer experience.

This includes the quality of your product, the service you offer, and did the price justify the entire experience.

Social media is dramatically changing the customer and business relationship. Depending on the experience of your customer determines what they tell their friends about you and your business in person, on Facebook, Twiiter, Google’s +1 or whether they leave that positive or negative review on the web. This will either bring you more customers or chase people away.

In the future, as more and more people integrate the mobile Smartphone technology into their lifestyle customer service is going to be even more paramount and the reviews will be immediate as they leave your business. It all makes a difference!

I know personally, I go out of my way above and beyond anyone’s expectations to make sure the customer leaves happy.

So my question to you is what are you doing to offer outstanding customer service in your  business?

Here are a couple of customer services guidelines for that you can implement:

  •   When a customer approaches or walks into your business, or if you are meeting with a customer, always smile and say hello. I have walked into many small businesses where the staff never even acknowledged I was there. This is not good for sales or building repoire with your customers.
  •   If a customer comes to you with a complaint try to solve it. Instead of viewing the complaint as a negative, look at it as a way to improve and earn a loyal customer.
  • Remember service sells and people will pay for a higher level of service. So go the extra mile and make sure all of your clients leave with an experience that was above their expectations.

Following these guidelines and using commonsense and just remember how you like to be treated when you visit a store or a restaurant. One final tip, to see this in action, go be a customer at a high end retail store and look at the service they offer you compared to other stores. Incorporate some of those customer service strategies into you business also.

Or better yet, visit your local Chick-Fil-A and watch how they interact with customers. To follow up on this story, yesterday while I was at eating at Chick-Fil-a, I noticed one of the managers go outside with a customer and try to jump start his car. They still could not get it started. So the manager went to his truck, got out his toolbox and started to try and fix the customer’s truck and get it started for him. He stayed outside for almost an hour until the car eventually started. That is service is service and going the extra mile to earn a lifelong customer.

Entrepreneur Mindset and Success

Having a positive mindset will change the way you view success and failure

Entrepreneur Mindset and Success

During my high school years I was a sprinter and my favorite sport was track. Little did I know how fate would play such a crucial role in my life.  My freshman year, I had the privilege of having John Dolan as my algebra teacher. After getting to know him, I learned that he was the sprint coach for the high school track team. As the year progressed and the track season started, I soon learned that he had invented a machine called the SprintMaster that was based off of Roger Bannister training, who was the first person to break the four minute mile.

One day after practice John explained to me how he developed the SprintMaster. He told me that “…when runners and sprinters used to train they would wait by the train tracks for the next train. As the train passed the runner he would reach up and grab a hold of one of the train cars and run along side of the train. The speed of the train increased their runner’s leg rotation and also lengthened his stride, which as a result made him run faster.”

So the SprintMaster was based off of this concept and could pull sprinters world class speed. Being pulled so fast, had the same effect as the train, it increased the speed of the sprinter’s leg rotation, lengthened his stride, improved the runners form, and was much safer than running alongside a train.

Because of John Dolan’s ingenuity, the Sprint Master lead to him to working with the US Olympic track and field team, coaching Carl Lewis, the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and other professional sport teams.

During my four years in high school, I would normally stay late after practice to talk with Coach Dolan, work extra on my sprint form and technique, attend his speed camps during the summer and learn whatever lesson he was willing to teach. Upon graduating high school, I often helped him at these same speed camps during the summer as a speed coach.

The one lesson that I learned from him that has impacted my life the most was when he told me, “If you are going to learn something, figure out who the very best is and learn from them. Because it takes just as much time to learn from the average person as it does to learn from the very best.”

This is the level of expectation, standard of excellence, and confidence that he instilled in me at very young age. Learn from the very best to become one of the very best. Sometimes it very challenging to always maintain this level of expectation, but after disciplining myself in this thought process, I always find myself returning to his advice, whenever I want to learn something new.

While I was running track in high school, by listening to John Dolan, I eventually ran the 40 at world class speed, even for today’s standards, between 4.2 and 4.4 seconds. When I was in college and learning direct marketing, I had the privilege of learning from Dr. Lisa Spiller and Dr. Carol Scovotti. Both already had exceptional success in direct marketing, but with the three of us working together, along with a few other team members, we were all able to win our 1st coveted Gold Echo Award, from the Direct Marketing Foundation.

 One of the hardest aspects of this strategy “to find the best to learn from them” is how do you discover, who the very best is in whatever it is you want to learn?

This can actually be one of the most time consuming processes of this strategy. Sometimes, it happens by chance, by just having this mentality, you are lead to the people you are searching. Sometimes, you have to search and that requires reading and learning about different approaches, until you discover, who some of the leaders in the industry are.

Some of the ways you can search for who the best are in a particular industry are:

1.)  Do a search on Google and see who comes up.

2.)  Look on Amazon for book authors, who are writing about the topics that you are searching and then visit their website to learn more about them.

3.) has a lot of authors that write about different topics, it is a great tool for getting to know people with knowledge in a particular industry.

4.)  Ask other people in the industry, who some of the leaders are.

5.)  Attend industry trade shows.

6.)  Subscribe to industry magazines and see who is featured.

7.) Look at who is advertising in trade journals and magazines

8.)  Contact suppliers of the industry, often they can give you a lot of information about who some of the leaders of the industry are.

Another aspect of this strategy is that you can start learning to acquire skills in the industry on a local level and often you can find people that are very experienced that can offer you a wealth of insight and information about your topic. This can get you started building your skill level and confidence, until you determine who the best is in the industry and from which you can learn.

Developing the thought process of learning from the best can take time to condition your brain to think this way. I relate this to always trying to think in a positive light all the time. Often this can take a good amount of time and energy to train your mind to think in this manner.

In conclusion, seeking out the best to learn from can provide you with invaluable information, years of experience that can reduce your learning curve, accelerate your expertise, while saving you time and money on your journey to be the best in your chosen art field.

Learning this lesson from John Dolan, changed my life forever and has had a huge impact on my own life, success in my career, and the way I approach learning new things. This one lesson he taught me the importance of having a successful mindset.



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